Although temperatures in South Africa are usually fairly pleasant year round, in winter month lows can still dip down to almost freezing. This can provide a dangerous environment for some dogs depending upon certain conditions and where they live.
For example, if you live in a neighbourhood where antifreeze is used, the key ingredient, ethylene glycol can be toxic, and in some cases even deadly, for dogs and other animals if ingested. What’s even worse, the smell and taste of this dangerous chemical is actually quite pleasant so dogs are actually likely to consume it if they happen to run across a small puddle of the substance.
Here are some other potential perils for your pet and 8 tips to keep them safe during the colder winter months:
#1 - After you walk your pet, be sure to wash and dry their feet to remove ice, salt and other chemicals (like mentioned above) that they could have picked up during your stroll. Check their paws for cracks or redness that could need attention.
#2 - Putting petroleum jelly or other types of protectant on their paws before an outing will also help prevent contact with chemicals. Some pet parents have even trained their canines to use booties for further protection.
#3 - Pets usually burn more energy during colder months when they’re likely to be more active to stay warm. Unless they’re on a special diet, perhaps a little overweight or have other dietary restrictions, consider given them a little more food during this time.
#4 - If it’s too cold for you outside, the same is likely true for your pet. Even though they have a fur coat, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be all right outside, especially overnight. Keep an eye on local weather reports if you have an outdoor animal and if significantly cold temperatures are expected, your dog would be better off indoors.
#5 - Again for outdoor dogs, even those both indoor and outdoor, be sure to check their water dish regularly to ensure it’s free of debris that can come from cold, windy, winter weather and make sure it’s not partially or completely frozen.
#6 - Keep trimming and similar hair removal techniques down to a minimum but don’t stop brushing them. Dogs with shorter hair that don’t need regular cutting, those with bare bellies and little fur may be more comfortable in a sweater or coat. For some mutts, this type of winter wear is a regular occurrence.
#7 - For those indoor/outdoor dogs, coming in and out of the moist, cold outdoors and coming inside to a drier, warmer environment can cause dry, itchy, flaky skin. Keep your house humidified and always dry your dog when wet if they come indoors. Both of these practices will help your pooch be more comfortable overall.
#8 - Bathe your pets less often during these colder times since this can remove essential oils from their skin that helps to keep them warm. As mentioned previously, winter is a time of year when skin can become drier than usual. When you do wash your animal, consider using a special moisturizing type of pet shampoo that can help with this problem.
Although rare and unpredictable, snow does fall in some parts of South Africa, especially in mountainous areas. Whether you live in a region where you see the white stuff regularly or rarely, you can still safely enjoy winter with your best friend.
Article by: Amber Kingsley, who is a freelance writer that has donated countless hours supporting her local shelters. With writing, she has spent most of her research on animals with regards to food, health and training.